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111 pounds lighter, Donna Bergeson is embracing a new lifestyle

Donna Bergeson

For Donna Bergeson, losing weight meant being there for her 12 grandchildren.

A retired special education and family and consumer sciences teacher and active volunteer, Donna found herself in a cath lab a few years ago after failing a treadmill stress test. She didn’t have any blockages, but was told that the only way she would be able to lengthen her life was to lose weight.

“I was up to 261 pounds and knew that if I wanted to be around for my grandkids I had to lose the weight,” Donna says.

She had lost weight twice before using another program, but after the death of her husband in 2009, she knew she had to do something.

“I couldn’t go up and down the stairs without getting winded, and I couldn’t sing in the church choir because I couldn’t get enough breath,” Donna remembers. “When I failed the treadmill test, that was the last straw.”

A new plan

Donna had attended a meeting at Ascension Via Christi Weight Management to learn more about bariatric surgery, but chose to try the HMR program instead because she learned that surgery didn’t guarantee she could keep the weight off any easier than using the HMR program.

“I didn’t want to have to count points or have to worry about what food I was going to have for my next meal,” Donna says. “The HMR plan made those decisions for me.”

Donna started the HMR program in January 2015, and after attending weekly meetings and working with Suzanne Neville, her health educator, she got down to her goal weight of 150 pounds in March of this year. She was able to stop taking her blood pressure and cholesterol medication and has been able to cut her antidepressant medication in half. She also managed to prevent getting diabetes, which runs in her family.

“Now I can get on the floor and play with my grandkids which I was never able to do before,” Donna says.

Support structure

These days Donna embraces physical activity, riding her bike to a water aerobics class most weekday mornings. Although she continues to maintain her goal weight, she still attends the weight management classes for the support.

“I continue to go to the meetings every week because I need the support from the others in the class and the accountability helps keep me on track,” Donna says.

Donna’s success is not a surprise to her health educator, Neville, who facilitates the weekly classes.

“If there are two things I would base Donna’s success on," Neville says, "it would be her commitment to problem solving by making sure she plans ahead and always has healthy foods on-hand, and her dedication to being physically active."